A Systematic Review of the Inter-individual Differences in Avoidance Learning

Alex H.K. Wong*, Asimina Aslanidou, Marcelo Malbec, Andre Pittig, Matthias J. Wieser, Marta Andreatta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Avoidance is typically adaptive given it prevents threat. However, avoidance becomes maladaptive when it is executed out of proportion of threat (i.e., excessive or insufficient avoidance), persists in the absence of threat, or excessively generalizes to other innocuous situations. Although there has been an increase in research in these different processes of maladaptive avoidance, the role of inter-individual differences in these avoidance processes receives less research attention, despite its theoretical and clinical importance. In this systematic review, we summarized the role of inter-individual traits that relate to risk or resilient factors for anxiety-related disorders, trauma-and stressor-related disorders, obsessive-compulsive related disorders, pain related disorders, eating-related disorders, and affective disorders. A majority of the inter-individual differences had an apparent mixed or null effect on the different processes of avoidance. We discussed this lack of evidence of inter-individual differences on avoidance due to a lack of methodological and/or analytical consensus in the field, in addition to a lack of integration of recent findings into existing theories. Recommendations for future research are discussed, with a focus on examining the conditions or experimental parameters for certain inter-individual traits to manifest their effects on avoidance, identifying the nuances of methodological and/or inter-individual differences in avoidance, and a call for integrating recent preliminary findings into existing theories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77856
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2023

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